Commentary: Ralph Nader wants to save us all from college football

There are political nuts everywhere. You have them on the right with Hank Williams Jr. making “dumb” comments about the president. You have them on the left with Ralph Nader wanting to save America from college football.

Of all the evils in America, one hardly ranks college football amongst them. However, Ralph Nader sees evil and wants to save America’s universities.

“If you get rid of the athletic scholarship, you deflate a lot of the problems,” Nader said in a story at the San Jose Mercury News website. “Education is a secondary concern at big-time programs. Exploitation is the inevitable outcome.”


Right. Giving a student a chance at a college education is exploitation.

College athletic scholarships often go to help persons in disadvantaged backgrounds. These scholarships help people who otherwise would not get help. It diversifies the student body. It supports the university’s mission by creating a connection between the college and the community its serves.

How are these bad things?

Nader insists college football serves our baser instincts.

According to the report, “Society’s attention to athletics, Nader said, has moved people down what he called the ‘sensuality ladder,’ a theoretical scale of people’s interactions with the world. Nader compared athletics to fast food, which ‘turns the tongue against the brain.’”

The tongue against the brain? Sounds like Socrates’ comparison of rhetoricians and philosophers. Rhetoricians are like a cook who provides food that tastes good but may not be good for the body. Philosophers are like a doctor who provides less tasty but loaded with nourishment food. The trick is finding out which is good and which is bad.

Nader offers nothing that would support his attack on football except this: “Society’s path down the ladder is reflected in the fact that universities pay football coaches more than professors and that UC Berkeley alumni were more concerned about the elimination of the baseball team than the university’s role designing nuclear weapons, he said.”

So, we pay entertainers more than teachers. That is just an amazing revelation. Perhaps pay has something to do with the marketplace—a marketplace that judges scarcity and prices accordingly. Honestly, there are more doctors of philosophy running around than qualified football coaches.

As for Berkeley’s role in designing nuclear weapons, perhaps alumni were more interested in baseball because the Cold War has ended. There is less fear of these weapons because there is less of a chance they might be used. The world has changed, but Nader has not.

This failure to change makes Nader a dinosaur.

College football is entertainment, but it fits within the broader mission of the university. Athletics links the college with fans, and fosters diversity. Football fosters donations to the academic mission of the university, and here in the South, football often runs a surplus at the big institutions helping support Title IX sports and academic scholarships.

There is a lot wrong with college football, but it isn’t hurting America’s colleges and universities. It is helping.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    I think college football is hurting the Univ of Auburn. It tends to make their cult more dangerous. They actually worship trees and offer Eagles up as sacrifices!!

  2. 2

    The best example of human relations good and bad is on display with college ball, and we all learn from it SHUT UP Nader and go back to sleep you old goat!!!!!!

  3. 3

    There was nothing wrong with the Corvair either, but that didn’t stop Nader from turning it into a wisp of smoke. Guess I should feel nostalgic when Ralphie raises his ugly head and brings up memories of ages past. But then I remember just how phucking stupid he was 45 or so years ago, and he hasn’t changed. Damn, isn’t he dead yet? Hell, I hope not cause then I might 1 foot on a banana peel myself. RTR!

  4. 4
    Uncle Dick

    It’s so easy to make a Kook Pie. Just start with 90% liberal mumbo jumbo and add 10% common sense. Garnish with an elitist mentality and voila!

  5. 5
    Milan Moravec

    the need for transparency has never been so clear. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) displaces qualified for public university education at Cal. instate Californians for a $50,600 payment and a foreign passport.

    UC Berkeley, ranked # 70 Forbes, is not increasing enrollment. Birgeneau accepts $50,600 FOREIGN students at the expense of qualified Californians.

    UC Regent Chairwoman Lansing and President Yudof agree to discriminating against instate Californians for foreigners. Birgeneau, Yudof, Lansing need to answer to Californians.

    Your opinion makes a difference; email UC Board of Regents

  6. 6
    Milan Moravec

    I love the University of California (UC) having been a student and lecturer. But today I am concerned that at times I do not recognize the UC I love. Like so many I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failures of Regent Chairwoman Lansing, President Yudof and the ten campus Chancellors from holding the line on rising costs.
    Californians are reeling from19% unemployment (includes those forced to work part time, and those no longer searching), mortgage defaults, loss of unemployment benefits. And those who still have jobs are working longer for less. Faculty wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid.
    Pay increases for generously paid Faculty is arrogance.
    UC Berkeley (ranked # 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increases. Chancellor Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most expensive American public university.
    President Yudof and Chancellor Birgeneau have dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting and freezing pay and benefits for all chancellors and reforming the pension system.
    They said faculty such reforms “would not be healthy for University of California”.
    We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system and the state to hold the line on cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises and huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues and individual Californians’ income.
    There is no question the necessary realignments with economic reality are painful. Regent Chairwoman Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that salaries and costs reflect California’s economic reality. The sky above UC will not fall

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents

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